FCC and mobile carriers are taking on scourge of scam phone calls
posted Saturday Jul 18, 2020 by Scott Ertz
While everyone agrees on how annoying robocalls, especially scam calls, really are, it has long seemed that there was nothing that could be done about it. However, over the last couple of years, the FCC has figured out that this scourge is within their purview and decided to try to alleviate it. The problem has been that enforcing these new rules has been difficult. The biggest fine ever levied against a medical scam ring is likely to never be collected. So, the FCC is giving more control to the carriers.
The biggest move has been the implementation of a safe harbor within the Telephone
Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act enforcement. This will allow telecom companies to block all calls "from bad-actor upstream voice service providers that pass illegal or unwanted calls along to other providers, when those upstream providers have been notified but fail to take action to stop these calls."
The safe harbor aspect refers to protection for the companies from unintended consequences from the decision. In the past, a lack of such safe harbor protection has prevented many carriers from implementing a robust approach to protecting their subscribers from illegal calls. By extending these protections, the FCC hopes that telecoms will begin to implement more stringent policies against these "bad actors" which have been identified and contacted by the FCC.
But, not all illegal calls come from these "bad actor" services. In an attempt to deal with those calls that come through larger services, such as through automated calls on standard SIM cards or VoIP services, the combined T-Mobile and Sprint have begun to roll out protections for their subscribers. T-Mobile subscribers will not get free access to the Scam Shield service, which was previously a subscription service.
The service offers some common features available through other services, such as identifying and blocking spam and scam calls and getting full caller ID information. In addition, the service gives you a proxy number. This works similarly to Google Voice, in that you get an additional phone number that you can give out that will also ring to your device. You can then dump that number if it becomes a problem. These features will go live starting on July 24, 2020. Unfortunately, Sprint customers will not get access to all of the T-Mobile capabilities just yet, but can still access the Sprint equivalent.